The CNRS roadmap for promoting “data culture” in scientific research

The National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), which brings together more than 1,100 laboratories in France and abroad, presents its roadmap to make research data accessible and reusable. The aim is to encourage researchers to make their results available to their peers.

Texts, software, algorithms …
Specifically, it is “raw or reprocessed data in all its formats, texts and documents, software, algorithms, protocols“, says Alain Schuhl, Deputy Director General of Science, in an interview published on the CNRS website. He also points out that the volume and diversity of data is constantly increasing with”the emergence of new technologies, increasing automation and, for example, the new possibilities of analysis offered by artificial intelligence“.

An asset for the creation of deep technology
The benefits of open data from scientific data are numerous. “Providing data attached to a scientific publication is critical to understanding, reproducing, and validating a scientific result.explains Alain Schuhl. Sharing this data also allows other computers to reuse it without having to generate it again, which saves time and ensures better use of research funds.. “

Predicted by the Lemaire Act of 2016 for a “Digital Republic,” open data from research data fosters the creation of new knowledge by cross-referencing the work of different teams that sometimes work in very distant disciplines. It is also an asset for the development of “deep tech” in France, these start-ups usually the result of university work.

Make the data “FAIR”
But this “culture of data” is far from obvious to all scientists. “Sometimes real cultural change is needed.“says Alain Schuhl.”Therefore, it is necessary to change practices and mindsets, as well as develop tools for data management, exchange, long-term preservation and dissemination. “keep on.

We need to make the data “FAIR”, that is, easy to find, accessible, interoperable, reusable, from the design of research projects, says the Director General of Science. In practice, the action program recommends drawing up a map of the data produced by the different research units that make up the public research body. It will identify the places of data production (infrastructure and / or laboratory experience), the places of data storage, the amount of data produced, the policies of sharing and storage of data within the units, etc.

Create a computerized laboratory notebook
In addition, the CNRS wants to promote the creation of new governance tools. Note that some data is stupidly lost because it is not stored properly. To address this issue, he proposes the establishment of a “research directory” or a “computerized lab notebook” to link to the “server that hosts the data.”

For “long tail” data, ie information resulting from the development of distributed imaging techniques and sensors, the CNRS is considering the creation of an “institutional” warehouse. This tool should be linked to the ongoing initiative of the French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, which is studying the feasibility of a “simple” national data warehouse.

Train staff in data culture
The action plan includes a “training” component, which is essential for fostering a culture of data. All types of staff should be aware of the issue. This awareness should be based on “exchanges of good practice”, “lessons learned from the implementation of FAIR” and “the definition of the legitimate limits of open data”.

To achieve these objectives, a new Functional Directorate of Open Research Data (DDOR), attached to the Directorate General of Science (DGDS), will be responsible for proposing and supporting the implementation of a policy and a strategy for data openness within the CNRS. A data administrator must also be created to represent the CNRS within the network that the Ministry of Higher Education is in the process of setting up.

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